Lago Ercina

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Introduction

Site list (GPS fixes) Walks (GPS tracks)  Video clips

Coordinates used


LED projects:

 Lamp tests
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Expedition logs:

 1973, 1974, 1975,
 1976, 1977, 1979,
 1982, 1983, 1985,
 1986, 1987, 1988,
 1989, 2000, 2001,
 2002, 2003, 2004,
 2005, 2006, 2007,
 2008, 2009, 2010,
 2011, 2012, 2013,
 2014, 2015, 2016,
 2017, 2018, 2019
 Mexico, New England


Translation:

 The Battle of
 El Mazuco


Expedition log, Spring 2019

Villa, Tebrandi, Boriza & Pozo de Fresno, Potes, Tresviso, Bolado.

Click on, or tap, any image thumbnail for a full-size version.
Date
Activity
28.02 Mike arrived Bilbao on schedule, and with four hours to wait had plenty of time to review plans, maps, etc. Bill’s plane from Milan happily arrived 20 minutes early and Bill appeared landside just six minutes after touchdown! Picking up the hire car was also achieved in record time and we were soon on the road heading for our first speleological ‘site of interest’.

This was the Hoyo de Fuentejuyo sink (1.7 km SW of Oriñón) spotted on the map some months ago; in beautiful weather (17°C and blue skies) we descended close to the watercourse shown on the map but there was no detectable water and no real chance of getting to the assumed sink through dense undergrowth. So ... onward to the second objective.

Hazas depression sink

Hazas depression sink

Again found from the map, the sink Δ for the huge Hazas depression is 2.5 km WNW of the Oriñón resurgence (and quite likely to be its source). It was easy to get to and was situated beneath an impressive overhanging limestone cliff, which was festooned with various climbing aids. Somewhat as expected the water disappeared into various holes that were blocked by debris and mud, but definitely worth the check. A sign above it stated ‘Ojo de Recueva’.

Day-one speleological objectives more-or-less achieved, we headed west via Oruña to Llanes. It being a February Thursday, most restaurants were closed but we had a pleasant light dinner at El Almacén.

01.03 Up at 9 and a brisk walk along the Llanes harbour quayside took us to the Bitácora bar for 2 large coffees. This still left us hungry so on our way to El Mazuco we also stopped at the Sidrería Jovino in Posada for yet more. We noted that they served food too! 

Bill on the way to the Villa TV mast

Bill on the way to the Villa TV mast

After the difficulty finding open restaurants the previous night we checked “El Sucón” near Debodes but it was closed, and the restaurant “El Roxin” in El Mazuco was fully booked for lunch due to the (previously unknown to us)  fiesta del Ángel de la Guarda. There was an unusual volume of traffic on the single-track roads. We decided to postpone the drone flying at El Mazuco (because it would probably have been impossible to drive back through the village) and instead drove up the track beyond the Ruiz Sanchez house in Villa (first frequented in 1973!). We parked at the westerly hairpin and proceeded to the TV antenna at the top of the ridge at 400m. Limestone all around, and to the south we could see the snow-covered Picos de Europa. To the north Vibaño and Rales. Total walking about 75 minutes (3 km).

We decided on lunch at Casa María in Mestas de Con and had the menu del día at €12. Fabada for both, trout for Bill and escalope for Mike. Average quality food.

Orandi ‘Trumbio meadow’ primroses

Orandi ‘Trumbio meadow’ primroses

Proceeding west then south we parked at the “Orandi Track” Δ on the road to the lakes and ascended past banks of primroses until we got to the so-called meadow above where we expected the Trumbio cave passage to be. It certainly looked pretty with limestone pavement, occasional water courses, woods. The paths were mainly dry and only barbed wire presented obstacles. Mike found a small hole leading to a shallow pool but this is not very likely to be the entrance that our Spanish colleagues discovered. Total walking time 70 minutes again. Stopped in Benia for a drink on way back to Llanes. Dinner at La Llosa.
02.03 Up at 9:30; had coffee in Uria bar and had another in Sidrería Jovino. Proceeded to Asiegu (about 2km NW of Carreña) and up the narrow unpaved road north towards Tebrandi. Shock, horror! A vehicle coming down!  Then after passing, another driving up in the distance. As a matter of courtesy to any landowners we parked at around 690m only to notice that a rear tyre seemed very deflated! Would we be able to descend without incident? Somewhat worried we walked the last 1.2km in bright sunshine and a brisk breeze.

Tebrandi drone view, SSW

Tebrandi drone view, SSW

At the end of the road we checked the valley descending west but there was no sign of the two springs marked on the map nor any water course. In fact the bottom of the valley is not limestone at all. We retreated to the track again to launch the drone close to the high point of the track Δ to take photos of the Sierra de Cuera (north) and the snowy Picos to the south; captured successfully in this panorama image (30MB, suitable for viewing with PanGazer ») which also shows the smoke from an unusual winter wildfire.

After a very slow and careful descent we checked the tyres above Asiegu village and all seemed fine! The apparent deflation was due to the uneven and sloping ground where we had parked. Nevertheless we pumped up the tyre in Arenas where we had a lighter lunch of chorizo a la sidra and patatas con Cabrales (as we were in Cabrales, the cheese sauce was above average) at Sidrería Calluenga. Returned via Panes to Llanes via Vidiago to admire the “bufones”, where the rough sea forces air and sea spray through fissures in the limestone. There she blows! 

Llanes Carnival

Llanes Carnival

Back to Llanes to discover it was Carnival day. Mike found a viewpoint on the Town Hall steps and was surprised at the spectacle; it was much bigger than expected, with some very clever floats and troupes; it took an hour and a half for all to pass the Town Hall; the final troupe had 80 people or more.

Dinner early at Taberna Mezcolanza (the old ‘El Galeon’) where we both had Secreto Ibérico (tender roast pork) washed down with Ribera del Duero.

03.03 To the ‘Mexican’ café for breakfast coffee; the café sported a number of people in carnival costumes and drinking beer; presumably the bar had stayed open all night.

Drone pic of possible Boriza upper entrance

Drone pic of possible Boriza upper entrance

Then to Posada for breakfast part two, and on up to El Mazuco in nice weather. Objective this time to investigate the Boriza possible high-level cave with the drone. As hoped, the lack of leaves on the trees gave much better views, and with tripod view settings (and more experienced pilot) we were able to fly the drone much closer than last year. Sadly, it still wasn’t clear whether there’s a going cave there – but there is a promising opening (see arrow in attached photo).

Next back via the ‘car paddock’ Δ to fly the drone over Pozo de Fresno, both Mike and Bill piloting, to again take advantage of no leaves on the trees – although the white Ash twigs acted quite effectively as a net curtain.

Bill in cave by the road to Playa de Cuevas del Mar

Bill in cave by the road to Playa de Cuevas del Mar

Missions accomplished for the morning we headed in the direction of Ribadesella in search of lunch. We ended up at the (new to us) Sidrería Muros in Nueva de Llanes which seemed partly built of barrels and had a fine grill – so somehow Secreto Ibérico was eaten again! Just as good as the evening before in Llanes.

Perfect weather again, so then North to the Playa de Cuevas del Mar for various explorations of many small caves at the beach and a little inland.

Then, as the wind was picking up ahead of storm Freya, a longish walk to the Bufones near Llames; spectacular waves, more noisily-venting holes, and spouting sea-water geysers.

04.03 The weather forecast had predicted a cold and very wet day but blue skies and sunshine welcomed us yet again when we got up at the usual 9:30 for breakfast. Nevertheless we persisted with the ‘wet’ plan, driving south from Unquera and up the Deva Gorge. Due to lack of safe parking places we cancelled the drone flight up to Pozu del Infierno entrance, so our first stop was at La Hermida. La Cuadrona, where we had hoped to get a plate of Picón de Bejes (blue cheese), was closed, but the Bar Restaurante Paquin was open and we had a small glass of Rioja.

Riega Cicera stream

Riega Cicera stream

In 2018 we had been unable to reach the town of Potes (further south) due to road works. This year, the road was open but surprisingly the road works were still continuing, widening the narrow road and bridges up the gorge. The lights directing the alternating one-way traffic were not well synchronized and we had a worrying moment encountering an oncoming truck head-on at a blind corner. We stopped for a hike up the track towards Cicera, but the entire valley was in the shade so it was rather cold. Retracing our footsteps we returned to the car and reached Potes only to find it was market day and parking was difficult. Had a plate of Picón cheese washed down with Protos (Ribera del Duero) at the “La Serna” bar after walking round the town. Hunger not being satisfied, we had yet another plate of a different Picón (Tresviso) at Paquin, but the tinto was “corked” (very rare in Spain) and we did not finish it.

Returning to Llanes we stopped on the coast to watch (and hear) the Bufones at Vidiago. The sea was rough and we were rewarded by high waves pushing air and salt sea spray through caves. There she blows! 

Most restaurants in Llanes were closed outside the weekend but Uria was open, where we were served by the same lady as 40 years ago!  Paella for both then lomo for Bill and filete al Cabrales (with blue cheese sauce) for Mike.

05.03
Sotres/Tresviso walking

Sotres/Tresviso walking

Weather all blue-sky again, so off to the mountains via Arenas de Cabrales, Tielve, and Sotres, to the little TV mast at 1240m (Cdo. de la Caballar) where we stopped for a lookaround – and found that the very keen wind gave strength to our plan to go downhill when we started walking. Our start point was the junction of the Bejes track with the Sotres–Tresviso road, at 1300m. Spectacular scenery, enlivened by the drifts of icy snow that caused us some (but not too much) walking over the snow. The rapid loss of height and the temperature when not out of the wind made this a shorter walk than usual, but a good one. Carried on to Tresviso to re-acquaint with the rustic bar and its fine views.

Sotres/Tresviso view from carpark

Sotres/Tresviso view from carpark

On the way back we noticed a cave entrance at Δ (approximately), visible from the road ESE .. to be added to the summer to-do list [interestingly it is not visible on StreetView, due to trees]. Although we had the drone in the car, this is (just) inside the National Park, so no flying of any kind is permitted; this will have to be an exploration on foot, fortunately a track goes close by.

Mike in Cueva Bolado

Mike in Cueva Bolado

Lunch of cabritu (goat kid) at the Sidrería Calluenga in Arenas – asado for Bill, chuletillas for Mike. Not as good as lamb, but very acceptable.

Back to Llanes via Posada, but as it was relatively early and we were feeling keen, we diverted to Cueva Bolado for some real caving. Almost found the main route on the first try, and soon got to the main sandy cavern at the end; the stalagmites looked amazingly pristine and white. The big surprise was finding a stream in the cave that we’d never noticed in summer visits; on exiting we soon found its resurgence.

Back to the hotel, and another dinner in Almacén (remarkably few restaurants being open).

06.03 Because of Bill’s early flight on the 7th, today was a travelling day to move closer to Bilbao. As we paid the bill at Hotel Sablón we were pleasantly surprised to receive a gift of local cheeses at reception!  We drove east via La Borbolla (with a walk towards the resurgence, and noticing an orange tree ‘in fruit’). No sign of any abandoned high level resurgence was seen notwithstanding the lack of obscuring vegetation at this time of year.

Next stop was Restaurante Las Filipinas in Comillas for a drink before proceeding to Puentecilla for lunch. We had a relatively expensive menú del día at €17 each. The merluza (hake) stuffed with mushrooms was good and unusual.

Castro Urdiales promenade

Castro Urdiales promenade

After lunch there was some light rain and we arrived in Castro Urdiales at 15:30. Went to the ‘green bar’, checked into the hotel, then (as the rain had stopped) walked round the town. La Marinera bar and many others were closed. Later, it started raining more seriously as we were writing up the log, so dinner in the hotel cafetería (the restaurant was ‘closed’).

07.03 Up early to catch Bill’s 10:45 flight; uneventful travels except atrocious driving weather in the UK. Mike makes up for a week of few vegetables with a seriously veggie lunch.


Notes:

  1. Exchange rate: 1.16 EUR/GBP (compared to 1.425 in 2015, 1.26 in 2016, 1.14 in 2017 and 2018); 85.5p = 1 Euro = 166 pesetas (194 pts/GBP).
  2. Petrol was €1.259/litre.
  3. Weather: essentially perfect; it could have been May or June, not March. A little rain on the final (mostly travel) day.
  4. The drone flown was a DJI Mavic Pro »; 33min in total.
    GPX tracks of the drone flights may be available if you contact us.
  5. The pictures in this log were taken using a Panasonic TZ100 camera, a Panasonic LF1, various phones, and the drone.
  6. Specific GPS positions are shown by a delta symbol (Δ) in the log above – click on the symbol for a Google maps view of the fix. These positions are also listed on the Speleogroup site list page with coordinates in °,′,″ degrees using European 1950 datum and in UTM coordinates (both matching Spanish maps and the digital TOPO Penínsular Norte); see Coordinate systems.
  7. Fixes and tracks were recorded using a Sony Xperia Z3 Android ’phone using the MyTrails app (or by the drone, for drone flights).
  8. This log was almost entirely edited in the field on a Lenovo Yoga notebook, using the MemoWiki » extended Wiki notation which is then processed by a Rexx » script to generate the HTML for this web page.

Expeditions to the Picos de Europa and elsewhere since 1973.
Please e-mail Mike Cowlishaw (mfc@speleogroup.org) or Bill Collis (bill@speleogroup.org)
if you have any corrections, suggestions, etc.   See also the SpeleoTrove speleology section ».
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This page was last edited on 2019-04-04 by mfc.